By Will Harrigan
A five-game tournament played over two days is often a war of attrition by the time the finals roll around on Sunday night.
But Sunday night’s game was no different for the Great Valley Kings 15U, as it was their team that had more gas in the tank at the end.
Taking advantage of 11 free passes and coming up with timely hits, the GV Kings won the 15U Home Run Classic White Bracket title at Diamond Nation by taking a 10-2 victory over the Rockland Pirates.
With 32 teams entered in the 15U tournament, two fields of 16 played for individual team championships.
The Kings outscored their opponents by a 38-9 margin en route to an undefeated tournament. The KIngs’ coach, Alex Melconian – a standout at Seton Hall who went onto play six years in the minor leagues – credited his kids for the effort.
“Our guys came through with hits at the right time not just tonight, but the entire tournament. Sometimes you aren’t going to mash the ball, but there are other ways to win,” Melconian said. “We took what was given to us and cashed in on it.”
While pitching was an issue for the Pirates all night long, it was not for the Kings.
Lefthander Michael Montebianco – who pitches for Pennsylvania power Malvern Prep – was superb all night, tossing a complete game six-hitter while surrendering just two earned runs and issuing one walk.
The winners wasted no time giving him all the run support he needed. A leadoff single in the first inning by Andrew Pelliciotta was followed by a hit batsman and a walk, setting up tournament MVP Chase Eckel to bring home the first run of the game via a base on balls.
Two batters later, Montebianco helped his own cause by lacing a seeing-eye single to score Joey Newell – who was struck by a pitch – to double the advantage to 2-0.
The Kings put up a five-spot in the second inning to blow the game wide open.
Four walks sandwiched by an out proved to be very costly for the Pirates, as Newell hit an opposite field single to score two runs, once again to run the lead up to 5-0. Pelliciotta, who had walked to lead off the inning, scored on a wild pitch to get the scoring party started.
Two batters later and following another walk to load the bases, Eckel followed through with another two-RBI single to make it 6-0.
Eckel came through with the hardest hit ball of the night, roping a two-RBI triple deep into right center field in the fourth to cap off the scoring for the Kings.
The Pirates got on the board in the third by piecing together four straight singles to score two runs. Vincent Duffy and Kaden Miller drove in the runs for the upstate New York squad.
Returning to Diamond Nation for a tournament in July, the Kings are now 1-for-1 coming to Flemington in the early summer circuit.
“We saw a lot of good competition here and we love playing here,” Malconian said. “Hopefully we’ll get better as the summer goes on and have a better showing when we come back.”
15U Red Bracket
DIAMOND JACKS SUPER 14U
The Diamond Jacks Super 14U, playing up an age group, defeated Max Bat Mid-West, 3-1, in the 15U Red Bracket Home Run Classic championship game. Lorenzo Maselli of Super 14U was named the 15U Red Bracket Most Valuable Player. The Diamond Jacks (5-0) outscored their opponents 30-8. Max Bat Mid-West (4-1) held a 45-27 runs advantage on its opponents.